The addition of nearly 4,000 cyber and intelligence jobs at Fort Gordon over the next five years should help insulate the post as the Army shrinks to its smallest size since before the buildup for World War II, one community leader said Monday.
The latest Defense Department budget proposal for fiscal year 2015, released Monday, calls for the Army to reduce its troop levels from 528,000 soldiers to fewer than 450,000 by 2019. The reduced levels would bring the Army to its lowest enrollment since 1940.
In an afternoon news conference, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the move was necessary “to protect critical capabilities like Special Operations Forces and cyber resources.”
Those identified areas of growth should bode well for local Army missions, said Thom Tuckey, the executive director of the CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon, who described cyber and intelligence funding streams as “untouchable accounts.”
“Fort Gordon could potentially lose some noncyber-related missions through operational realignments, but the overall growth is still projected to be over 3,000 (jobs),” said Tuckey, a retired Army colonel, who formerly served as Fort Gordon’s garrison commander.
Protecting Fort Gordon from the budget ax is the announcement that 3,700 military, civilian and contractor jobs will be added to the post’s workforce by 2019 to accommodate a Cyber Command headquarters, a Cyber Center of Excellence, and growth to Army, Navy and Air Force intelligence operations.
The 2015 defense budget proposal likely will affect Signal Corps student numbers, but even Tuckey said reductions in those areas of enrollment should be offset by the increase in the number of soldiers coming to Fort Gordon to receive training at the new Cyber Center of Excellence.
Tuckey said it is not known yet which noncyber missions might face cuts at Fort Gordon.
“Because of the possible additional force cuts, Fort Gordon could see some realignment as communications support requirements change,” he said.
J.C. Mathews, Fort Gordon spokesman, said that normally, the post does not comment on budget impacts until the budget is signed into law and has received instructions on implementation.
“At this time, we’ve received no guidance to start planning for these additional reductions, but obviously we’re prepared to do what’s required when a budget is finalized and guidance is provided,” Mathews said.
An Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Don Peters, said the military branch has no specific budget information at this time about Fort Gordon.
Patricia Ryan, the public affairs chief for the Army Cyber Command, said that her office does not have access to Fort Gordon budget information and that it cannot speculate on future developments regarding the post.
If Congress doesn’t restore money to the Pentagon budget, Hagel said, the number of soldiers would instead drop to 420,000 by 2019, which could greatly affect some Georgia Army missions.
Fort Stewart, near Savannah, is already projected to lose 1,900 soldiers by 2015, and discussions have begun to eliminate 1,100 positions by cutting the Air Force Reserve Command, headquartered in Warner Robins.
The proposed budget also includes elimination of all A-10 squadrons across the Air Force. That could result in the loss of about 4,000 jobs at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta and 110 jobs in 11 other Georgia communities that provide parts for the A-10 re-wing contract at the Boeing Co.’s operations in Macon.
Associated Press reports were used in this article.